Irish Post campaigns against RTE London closure

Irish state broadcaster RTE has been urged to drop controversial plans to close its London office.

The Irish Post, the weekly newspaper for the UK’s Irish population, has launched a ‘Save Our Station’campaign in response to the proposals, and the NUJ is urging the station to consider alternative proposals including sharing services with UK broadcasters.

There are fears the closure could lead to redundancies among RTE’s London-based journalists, though numbers have not been finalised and the NUJ remains in consultation with management.

The closure announcement was made in response to RTE’s net €17m deficit in 2011, following a sharp drop in commercial revenue from €240m in 2008 to €168m in 2011.

The mooted London closure is part of a wider restructuring programme announced across the entire station.

The broadcaster insists that it remains committed to covering British news, Anglo-Irish politics and stories from the Irish emigrant community, but will do so with staff and resources from its news bureaux in Dublin, Brussels and Belfast.

It said the cost of having staff on the ground in London amounts to around €800,000 a year.

Politicians in Ireland, however, have expressed concern the closure could damage Irish-Anglo relations, and have lobbied the broadcaster to reconsider its plans.

Almost 30 MPs in the UK Parliament have signed an Early Day Motion noting the concern of the Irish community in Britain and stating that ‘on-the-spot access for Irish-based media and engagement in public life in this jurisdiction is vital to fulfil the vision of future British-Irish relations as set out by the Prime Minister and Irish Taoiseach in their historic statement of 12 March 2012″.

It urged the UK Government to ‘support the case for retention of the Bureau and assist in the search for alternatives to closure”.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: ‘The union supports the campaign to save the Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) London office from closure. We hope RTE will consider alternative proposals including the possibility of shared services with other broadcast organisations rather than shut the London office entirely.

‘There are many connections between Ireland and Britain and we support the continuation of quality broadcast news. The NUJ are currently engaged in wide ranging discussions with RTE on a number of proposals. Our priority is the preservation of employment and securing quality public service broadcasting across all services.”

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